A Bit Damp

Another Friday evening, another great way to end the week with a camera in hand. As I finished up work, wondering whether to mow the lawn, I looked out the window and saw awesome clouds zipping past.

Grab camera, grab Dog, go walkies and shoot whatever happens. There was rain. There was sun.

And after the rain, the sun illuminating the gently undulating crop fields contrasted amazingly with the remaining ominous clouds beyond.

Simple undulating rural countryside – with dramatic clouds above.

Exploring Strathearn

I spent a happy evening exploring the Quoig area in Strathearn – the floodplain of the river Earn between Comrie and Crieff, south of the A85. Disused railway line, Sir David Baird’s monument and a luscious sunset. Can’t complain 🙂


Focus-Stacking with the Fuji X-H1

For years I’ve been a fan of superresolution – taking multiple images of a scene with subtle sub-pixel shifts and upscaling before blending to give a greater resolution photo than any one source.

One of the features I used occasionally on the Pentax K-1 was its pixel-shift, whereby the sensor moved four times around a 1px square; this gives an improved pixel-level resolution and full chroma detail at each point.

Having exchanged that for the Fuji X-H1, I still look to perform super-resolution one way or another. Hand-held HDR always works – in this case even better than either the K-1 or the X-T20 because the X-H1 permits 5 or 7 frames per bracket at ±2/3EV each, which is ideal.

But I thought I’d experiment with a different approach: focus-stacking. This way, the camera racks the focus from foreground to background in many fine steps. Keeping the focal-length the same, the effective zoom changes subtly between successive images. Essentially, where hand-held HDR varies the position stochastically in an X-Y plane, focus-stacking means pixels from the source frames track a predictable radial line in the superresolved image.

The X-H1 has focus-bracketing but leaves the blending up to the user in post. That’s OK.

First, an overview of the scene:

Scene overview: Fuji X-H1, 18-135mm lens at 127mm, f/8 narrow DoF

The X-H1 made 50 frames, focussing progressively from front to back. These were blended using enfuse:

time align_image_stack -a /tmp/aligned_ -d -i -x -y -z -C [A-Z]*.{tif,tiff,jpg,JPG,png}
time enfuse -o "fused_$base" /tmp/aligned_* -d 16 -l 29 --hard-mask --saturation-weight=0 --entropy-weight=0.4 --contrast-weight=1 --exposure-weight=0 --gray-projector=l-star --contrast-edge-scale=0.3

The results are a little strange to behold – while the effective DoF is much increased (the distant wood texture is clear) the rock detail is quite soft; I suspect some of the above numbers need tweaking.

However, with a bit of work – both enhancing the local contrast and using in-painting to tidy up the rock itself – a pleasant image emerges:

The final polished result: banded rock on wood, Fuji X-H1

A definite improvement. I may have to use it in my landscape work a bit 🙂

Gear Change Time

Back in May I had a bit of a holiday. Figured the primary camera would be occupied taking timelapse video sequences for a couple of the evenings, and what happens if I find something else to take a photo of? So a friend suggested I get a Fuji X-T20.

Loved it.

Sold the K-1 dSLR and all the other Pentax kit, bought a Fuji X-H1 and some nice lenses to augment it.

Having spent all last Friday having the day off for the purposes of swapping the gear, I called in at Portknockie to make some photos of the well-known Bow Fiddle rock. The tide was low, requiring more care scrambling over the rocks.

Getting a bit more artistic, a long exposure view of the clouds passing by and a toned and tweaked edit:

The Zeiss 12mm f/2.8 Touit Fuji X-mount lens is a beauty. Being for APS-C crop-sensor only, it’s comparatively small, but elegantly formed with the curves flowing from lens-hood to body where the aperture and focus rings are smooth rubber perfectly integrated into the body.

I still maintain the most interesting views are to be found within the caves beside Bow Fiddle, not just staring at the lump itself. This is the first test image made with the Zeiss lens – sitting inside one of the caves, looking out, an HDR composite of 5 frames ±2/3EV each and even so it took a delicate touch getting the best RAW conversion and blend (haven’t used LuminanceHDR in ages!).

Testing my newly acquired Zeiss 12mm f/2.8 Touit lens – inside one of the caves looking out, of necessity a 5-shot HDR ±2/3EV. That lens is awesomely sharp, even with slightly elevated ISO around 640-1600.

Finally, one to relax with: the most serene simple composition of blue-grey sky with warm crepuscular rays spreading from behind a cloud. Light and sea, what more does one need?

Beautiful simplicity: a very cool blue-grey sky with orange crepuscular rays in the distance.